NBC New York
A 19-year-old has been arrested in two synagogue firebombings in New Jersey. He allegedly hatched his attack plan with items purchased at an area discount store. John Noel reports from Rutherford.
New Jersey officials are sweeping all synagogues within a 10-mile radius from the home of a firebombing suspect accused of tossing explosives into two synagogues amid concern he had a larger plot to attack temples.
Anthony Graziano, 19, pleaded not guilty Wednesday through his attorney in court in Hackensack Wednesday morning. He's being held on $5 million bail after being charged with a host of crimes including attempted murder, arson and bias intimidation in two synagogue firebombings this month.
Bergen County officials said Wednesday that they were sweeping other synagogues as a precaution to check for accelerants and flammables. A source tells NBC New York that officials theorize he might have also stashed materials in a wooded area as part of other planned attacks.
Authorities say Graziano was responsible for fires at synagogues in Paramus and Rutherford this month. They traced the materials in some of the bombs to a Wal-Mart store and captured surveillance images of a man buying the materials who later was identified as Graziano.
Authorities believe he acted alone in both attacks, a week apart, and was motivated by anti-Jewish bias. There was no known connection with the synagogues he targeted, and authorities said he simply Googled area temples.
No one was seriously injured when several objects, including a rigged aerosol can and a Molotov cocktail, were thrown into the synagogue in Rutherford on Jan. 11, but the building houses Congregation Beth El, a school, and a residence where Rabbi Nosson Schuman lives with his family.
Nosson said Tuesday that the arrest was "a worry off everybody's shoulders."
The suspect's father, also named Anthony Graziano, told NBC New York that his son is a "great kid" and that he must have been coerced by someone if he indeed committed the crimes prosecutors are alleging.
"This is not my son," said the elder Graziano. "This kid loves everyone."